Oakleigh Venture Revolving Fund

The Oakleigh Venture Revolving Fund (OVRF) was launched in 2001.

The idea is to renovate abandoned houses, sell them and use the money to do it all over again.

In late 1995, residents of Oakleigh signed a $300,000 bank note to buy, restore, and resell an abandoned nursing home on Government Street. They repeated this with three Victorian cottages in the neighborhood.

Mobile lawyer and lobbyist Palmer Hamilton assembled a group of Oakleigh activists and created presentations for foundation and corporate donors. These requests resulted in grants totaling $300,000.

The fund has since created almost $5 million of new or improved houses.

The OVRF started a major revitalization effort on Marine Street in 2002 and far has restored over 30 houses. Marine Street is Oakleigh’s oldest street, dating from the 1830s.

The Oakleigh fund is an unincorporated independently operated subcommittee of the nonprofit Mobile Historic Development Commission with a separate board.

The OVRF has received grants from the Fannie Mae Foundation and the Bedsole Foundation.
The OVRF received $705,385 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2003. The money was earmarked for the Oakleigh fund by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, who has ties to the fund’s president, Palmer Hamilton.

In 2005, the Bedsole Foundation, one of the OVRF’s original funding sources, asked the fund to expand its work to Mobile’s Central Business District. The fund has completed four townhouses on Dauphin Street.

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